President of Ghana, John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills on illegal mining and illegal felling of trees.

Ghana’s President, John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills has expressed worry about the level of environmental degradation in his country – mentioning in particular, illegal felling of trees and illegal mining as the two most important issues on his agenda which needed immediate attention. According to him, if measures are not put in place immediately to forestall the problem, the legacy that will be left behind by those in decision making for the younger generation in future will not be a proud one.“Unless we take steps to address illegal mining and illegal felling of tress now, we shall live to regret in future and the legacy that we shall bequeath to the younger generation will be a legacy that we ourselves cannot be proud of,” he noted.

President Mills made this revelation at a durbar of chiefs in Koforidua when he visited the Eastern Region as part of his nationwide tour exercise.

The Eastern Region is one of the hot spots for illegal mining activities, known in the local language as ‘gallamsay’ and illegal felling of tree. It is also home to the source of most water bodies in the country. Prominent rivers likePra, Densua, Birim and Ankobra all flow through the south from the Akuapim hills.

As a result of illegal mining by some miscreants, most of these water bodies have been polluted, thereby, leaving several communities in danger. Access to potable water by communities along these water bodies and those that rely on treated water from these rivers are a thing of the past.

“We have a situation as a result of illegal mining, water bodies are being polluted. I do not want to mention names but there are some prominent water bodies that have been polluted to the extent that they have become health hazards. We cannot allow this situation to continue,” Mr. Mills emphasised.

Not to mention of the illegal mining activities, the issue of illegal felling of trees has also brought huge burden on various water bodies in the country. The consequence is enormous since most water bodies, especially, the smaller ones have dried up, with the bigger ones still struggling to flow freely along its ways.

Ghana’s forest cover that was the envy of all in the sub-region, on the other hand, is virtually gone. At independence, Ghana had 8.2 million hectares of tropical rain forest. Today, about 90 percent of the country’s forest cover is no more. The remaining 10 percent is still under pressure from illegal chainsaw operators. According to the country’s Forestry Commission, Ghana loses 70,000 hectares of its forest cover annually due to bad farming practices, bush fires, logging, and mining among many others. Ghana now faces imminent disaster.

Last month, Ghana’s Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mike Hammah paid a surprise visit to a forest reserve in the Ashanti Region and arrested four illegal chainsaw operators.

Apparently, the operators lived in the forest reserve. Surprisingly, some officials of the Forest Commission, the body mandated to supervise the activities of the country’s forest cover, have a hand in this nefarious act.

Alarmed by the increasing rate of the two most challenging issues confronting the nation, Mr. Mills called on the various chiefs in the country who are main custodians of the land to help in fighting against that menace since “what is illegal is illegal and nothing can make it legal.”

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